Olayan School of Business at the American University of Beirut

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Selected in an international invited competition, the Olayan School of Business results from focused attention on its program, the production and the transmission of knowledge, the quality of its interior life, and the specific particularities of the school, its personality and its people. The building includes, first, a large green oval carefully located on the axis of existing steps, which become a primary means of access to the sea, connecting students from the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture and the campus-at-large to the Corniche's elevated edge. Second, the design creates an L-shaped four-story building with a traversable ground plane consisting of four enclosed pieces. These are grouped around the School's central space, a triangular open courtyard. Porous and transparent, this floor promotes collegiality, containing the school's lobby, auditorium, cafe and terrace, as well as student facilities, mailboxes and related social programs.

To clarify way-finding and the building's legibility, the undergraduate education facilities are located on the second floor, graduate education and the MBA program are on the third and the Executive Education program on the fourth floor, which also contains the Dean's Office in its corner. The triangular courtyard joins these three levels, and each overlooks the space, enriching it with their different lives.

The image of the building is one of vernacular precedent and contemporary vision. The "hanging" façade, made of pre-cast blocks replicates the warmth of the local Forni limestone present in the campus, while the openings of the screen-like skin recall the wooden mashrabiya that are characteristic of the region. The façade is arranged in deliberate patterns that relate to the varying needs for light and view within the interior programs. The openings in the screen are tighter on the lower floors to provide shading for classrooms, and become larger towards the top of the building to capture views of the Mediterranean from faculty offices.

Year: 2003-2009
American University of Beirut
Beirut, Lebanon

First Prize, Category 1: Work Abroad 13th SCA

CPAU Prize of Architecture

Honor Award

AIA New England

Progressive Architecture Award

Architecture Magazine

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